Service on the Moore County Board of Education will never be the same after last year’s firing and subsequent rehiring of Schools Superintendent Bob Grimesey.

In the wake of all that uproar, four board members resigned and temporary appointments were made. All stand for election this year. Also, the board is dropping from eight to seven members, shedding one of three at-large positions. We’ve interviewed all the candidates and came away impressed by the overall slate. Our endorsements:

Libby Carter, At-Large

Two incumbents — both appointed last year — compete for one seat: Libby Carter and Pam Thompson. Both are excellent board members and bring experience to their roles, but we’re forced to pick one, and we endorse Carter.

Carter is the daughter of a public school teacher and schools superintendent, Luther Adams. She herself was a longtime teacher for Moore County Schools before retiring a couple of years ago. She built the Pinecrest High School speech and debate team into a program of national renown and continues to help coach it, now as a volunteer. Carter is a staunch advocate for teachers and lends a needed perspective in that regard. Her board service is as much emotional as it is intellectual, and no one doubts her commitment.

Bruce Cunningham, District 5

Bruce Cunningham, seeking a fourth term on the school board, faces BJ Goodridge. Cunningham has long exhibited deep knowledge of education issues, and his leadership skills were unparalleled last year as he adroitly steered the school system through the Grimesey controversy. He volunteers tirelessly in the school system and has the institutional background younger board members and a still-new administration need.

Betty Wells Brown, District 4

Betty Wells Brown and Angela Headen Davis are two education veterans but newcomers to the electoral process. Davis would hold the school system accountable on diversity and academic achievement for minorities.

Brown will also be a staunch advocate, and she has an edge in her experience teaching teachers and in teacher recruitment and retention.

Helena Wallin-Miller, District 2

Helena Wallin-Miller, appointed last year, is unopposed. She does her research, talks to all parties, and takes firm stands on challenging matters. Wallin-Miller has an excellent command of her responsibility to the community and, with two children in the school system, is invested in its success. We’re glad she will return for a full term.

Stacey Caldwell, District 1

Stacey Caldwell was appointed last year and is competing with Billy Marts, editor and publisher of The Aberdeen Times. Caldwell, a former Pinehurst Elementary teacher, has had a quiet year on the board and has not stood out in the same way her fellow appointees have.

We believe Caldwell is capable and growing into her role as a public figure. In our interview with her, she did not exhibit the command of budget issues Marts demonstrated. We also found Caldwell’s perspective too narrow, focusing on her nearby Vass-area schools and not the broader county. Marts talked about his district but also showed passion for the issue of combining middle school sports teams among three schools in northern Moore, which he opposes.

Marts surely would ask tough questions, but we worry whether he’d drill too deeply into daily management issues, which is not the board’s purview. And his occupation could chill fellow board members’ candid and unfettered discussion in private, lest they worry about it being published. The fourth estate serves its role best outside of the governmental process, not as part of it.

On balance, Caldwell earns a slight edge for her classroom experience, her time already on the board, and her fit with fellow board members. But should Marts win, we are confident he’ll serve with distinction.

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